Former Warriors, Highlanders Striker Mandla Balanda Dies
Former Highlanders and Warriors striker, Mandla Balanda real name Mandlenkosi, has died aged 54. The Chronicle reported that Mandla died on Sunday after battling an unnamed illness for some time.
His death came just a few days after overseas-based former Zimbabwean footballers raised funds to assist with his medical bills. Netsai Moyo, who handed over the cash donation, confirmed the news of Balanda’s passing, which he had received from the family that morning. Moyo said:
Its true he is no longer with us. I got news from the family this morning. Sad news for Zimbabwean football.Feedback
Balanda played for Eagles, Darryn T, and Highlanders, and had a successful stint in Botswana, where he is remembered as one of the best dribblers to have graced their shores. Balanda’s football career began at a young age, playing plastic football in the streets of Mpopoma, and he later attended John Tallach boarding school where he specialised in soccer.
Balanda’s professional career began when he joined Hunyani FC, where he played alongside his late brother Clement Balanda, Joe Mbarure, and Peter Kolly. He was called up to the under-20 national team and helped his team win the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament.
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He joined Harare-based Tornados FC, a club that was eventually sold to Darryn T textiles. He was then spotted by scouts from TaskFC, a Botswana-based outfit, and he joined the Francistown outfit to form a deadly partnership with Patrick Zibotshwa.
Balanda spent a season at TaskFC and then moved to Gaborone United FC, where he became a household name and helped the team clinch the Botswana Premier Soccer League championship. He returned to Zimbabwe and showcased his top-drawer skills at Highlanders, where he was a scoring machine. Balanda was spotted by veteran coach Ali “baba” Dube during a social soccer match and quickly joined the Amahlolanyama team, which had a galaxy of players. Balanda’s unforgettable game was when his side clashed with DeMbare in an epic battle at Babourfields.
The passing of Balanda is a great loss to Zimbabwean football, and he will be deeply missed by fans and fellow players alike. He is survived by his wife Roselyn Dube and five children. Balanda was born in 1969 and hailed from Nkayi in Matabeleland North province. He was a Christian and had a successful career as a panel beater and spray painter after quitting soccer.
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